Writing is one of my life’s passions. I put my heart and soul into each and every romance novel I write, and my blog is where you’ll get the inside scoop. You’ll learn more about your favorite characters, and I’ll talk about what inspires me. And when I start working on my next novel, you’ll be the first to know.
I know I’m a little late wishing everyone a Happy New Year this year. Sometimes life gets hectic. Then one day you look up and say, “Holy cow! Is it really the middle of January already?”
Yep, it happens.
For some reason 2019 seemed to be more more difficult year than usual. The holidays were difficult as well, so at least it was consistent.
First my hair salon caught fire. Not only do I get my hair done there, I also treat myself to a weekly manicure. It was nice to have a short break in the middle of my hectic work week, so it was like a home away from home for me. The fire happened the Friday before Christmas. Fortunately, the salon had already closed for the day, so no one was inside the building at the time. However, it will be a good six months before it can reopen. Thankfully, the parent company has several other salons in Tucson, so I’m able to keep my appointments, but it’s not the same as we all miss our “home.”
Will this be fodder for another book? Who knows. Or perhaps it’s life imitating art, as a fire occurs in my most recent contemporary romance novel, The Scandal.
An unexpected loss
Sadly, another tragedy struck the following night when a friend was killed in a car crash. Jesus Limon was a well loved local actor here in Tucson. His loss shook the entire performing arts community, as well as his fans and friends. He was one of those people who lit up a room whenever he walked in, and he always had a smile, even when times were rough. I never once heard him say an unkind word about anyone, and everyone loved him in return. People like him are rare, and he will be deeply missed. And yes, I will definitely be dedicating a future book to him.
So on to 2020
So, what’s new for 2020? I’m currently working on a minor re-edit for my romance novel, The Journey. The story will remain the same. I’m simply rephrasing some of the narrative and eliminating filler words to make it read a little smoother. I’m also formulating my next contemporary romance novel. It’s working title is, The Rival. It will have a similar theme as The Stalker, although it won’t be as dark of a story. It’s about a vengeful ex who’s furious when he hears his former fiancee has moved on with her life.
So Happy 2020 everyone. Let’s hope it’s a happier year for all of us.
Sometimes life imitates art. The Harvey Weinstein scandal broke shortly after I had decided to write a contemporary romance novel about Hollywood. This created an unexpected challenge as I strive to create unique, original characters. Therefore, I would have to make a point of not having a character with too close of a resemblance to Mr. Weinstein. Enter Calvin Michaelson, a Hollywood mogul and the catalyst for The Scandal.
I had envisioned Cal as a predator, but he would be similar to Roman Polanski. Unfortunately, it came out way too creepy for my taste. I wrote a couple of revisions, but Cal remained too creepy. Novel writing, like other endeavours, doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes what sounds good in a treatment, or the story summary, simply doesn’t work once pen is put to paper, as was certainly the case here. The character would have to be reinvented. So, after much thought, Cal went from a creepy predator to a Hugh Hefner like playboy. He’s a womanizer who makes no apologies for who he is. Unfortunately, like many of his real-life counterparts, Cal will become his own undoing and he soon finds himself in the middle of scandal that rocks Hollywood. Later on, however, Cal will become an unlikely hero, and readers will discover a hidden side to this complex character.
Calvin Michaelson is a purely fictional character. His inspiration comes from powerful men who thought they were too big to fall and thus became their own undoing.
Lauren McAllen, the female lead in my contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has achieved fame in a town where few people become successful. For the past ten years she’s played an iconic vamp on a top-rated soap opera, making her a household name as the woman fans love to hate. Now she’s ready to move on and become a star on the big screen.
Once again, luck appears to be on Lauren’s side. Hollywood mogul Calvin Michaelson has seen her work, and he soon offers her a supporting role in a feature film. For Lauren, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime and dream come true. However, it may come at a price. While Cal has made other women famous, he has a reputation for expecting certain favors in return. Before the cameras start rolling, Cal is accused of a serious wrongdoing, and Lauren will soon find herself caught up in a major scandal that rocks Hollywood.
Lauren is a fictitious character. Her inspiration came from a cousin who once played on a soap opera many years ago. However, Lauren is a unique individual whose life is very different from from my cousin’s.
Please click on the link below to read a free preview of The Scandal.
I wrote The Reunion back in 2011, and while it’s gotten four and five star reviews on Amazon, I’ve grown as a writer since then, and I want the writing style to be more consistent with my later work. A copy edit is when you make minor changes, as eliminating filler words or rephrasing a sentence. The story content remains the same. It just reads a little smoother.
I finally finished yesterday morning, or so I thought, because as I took a break to do some household chores a new scene suddenly played through my mind.
A new scene and an updated version
Without spoiling the plot, I’ll simply say that one of the antagonists, who appears about halfway through the story, is thwarted. However, this villain also did something illegal, and I never held her accountable for her actions. She simply disappeared once her plan failed, and, looking back, I realized it was a mistake. Doing something against the law is simply wrong, and the character, albeit a minor one, should have been held accountable. The new scene is a conversation between Gillian, one of the lead characters, and Paul her assistant, as they discuss the legal actions they intend to take against this antagonist. The scene ends with the reader feeling that their efforts will be successful, and it adds closure to the episode. The story then returns to the main conflict.
The rest of the story remains as is. The Reunion has been and always will be my favorite novel, as the inspiration from the story comes from someone I once knew, years ago, who has been and always will be near and dear to my heart.
The new, update version of The Reunion will be available soon.
I like to go back and reread my earlier novels as believe it or not, I forget some of the details. While I’m there I might get ideas for a spin-off novel, or I may consider using a character in a future book. It’s also interesting, and occasionally nerve wracking, to see how much I’ve grown as a writer.
The Reunion was my first contemporary romance novel. Prior to that I’d written a cookbook and a series of children’s novelettes, (all under a different name), but The Reunion was my first real novel. It’s also the one nearest and dearest to my heart, as it’s based on someone I once knew. We went our separate ways years ago, and after I started writing books I began wondering what would happen if, by chance, he ever showed up at a book signing. I have no idea actually, but the scenario became the inspiration for The Reunion.
So, as I was wrapping up my latest novel, The Scandal, I grabbed an old copy of The Reunion and started reading, but instead of a happy trip down memory lane, all I saw were things I wanted to go back and edit. Apparently I really have improved as a writer. So much so that the work I was so proud of years ago now looks amateurish, at least to me. Cynthia, my editor, has become much more stringent as well. Granted, most people would never notice the wordiness here, or the choppy sentence there, but to me it’s like listening to sour notes. So, I’m going back and doing a tweak. I’m removing filler words, such as, “decided to,” along with bits of unnecessary narrative. You know, the stuff you won’t miss once it’s gone. The story, however, remains the same. Each and every chapter and scene is still there. They just read a little better.
By the way, I’ve written three spin-off novels from The Reunion. The Journey comes the closest to being a sequel. It’s about the same family, but with different lead characters and an unrelated storyline. The Betrayal and The Letter include minor characters from The Reunion, this time with bigger, more significant roles. Reunion leading lady Gillian also makes cameo appearances in both books.
A few years ago I came across a Facebook meme a musician friend had posted about the rules for dating a musician. It was an interesting read. It made the point that a gig is not a date, and not to expect your boyfriend or girlfriend to give you their undivided attention as interacting with the public is part of their job.
For those of us who work in creative fields, whether it’s music, acting, fine arts such as painting, or writing books, public appearances come with the territory. Interacting with fans or followers is an important part of our job, and it’s imperative that we make a positive impression. We also work an unconventional job. We generally don’t work a normal 9 to 5 work week, and writers and artists in particular often work at home. In other words, while we have a lot to offer, and while we very much appreciate your love and support, we’re not your typical boyfriend or girlfriend.
By the way, most of these rules would also apply if you have a friend or a family member who’s an author or an artist.
the rules for dating a writer
Writing is our passion. It is not a hobby.
Authors and writers are often introverts. Please don’t mistake our quietness for conceit or arrogance.
Writing is not a performance art. Please allow us the time and space to work on our craft.
Please don’t quiz us about our works in progress. If we want you to know what we’re working on we’ll be happy to tell you about it.
Never, ever look over our shoulders while we’re writing!
A missed deadline can be a career killer. If we tell you we’re on a deadline it doesn’t mean we’re trying to avoid you. It means we’re on a deadline.
Please don’t tell us about this great idea you have for a book unless you’re actually writing it.
If we want your feedback we’ll ask you for it. If we don’t, then please don’t tell us what you think we should be writing.
Please don’t ask us to make you into a character in one of our books.
A book signing is for meeting fans and promoting our books. It’s not a place for you to hang out.
Please don’t brag to your families, friends and coworkers about how you’re dating an author. We’re not trophies.
Please don’t ask us for free copies of our books for your friends and coworkers.
Never ask us how much money we made on our last book, or how many books we’ve sold, unless you want us to quiz you about how much money you job pays you.
We work in an extremely competitive business and we can’t all be as famous Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Never confuse talent with fame.
I’m pleased to announce that my latest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal is now available. The Amazon Kindle edition is ready for downloads, and the paperback version will be available within a few days.
This was a fun book to write. So much so that part of me wished I could keep writing it forever. Be careful what you wish for. I ended up making many, many last-minute revisions and missed two deadlines as a result. Sure, it got a little stressful at times, but it was well worth it. I’m very pleased with the final result and I hope you will be as well.
So now comes the fun part. I get to go on hiatus for awhile. It’s not that I don’t love writing, but I have to take breaks every once in awhile. My dogs will be so pleased. So while you all enjoy my next book I’m going to be doing some photography and playing with my piano. And, if I’m lucky, I might take a road trip or two. In the meantime, however, I’ll be posting on this blog. By the way, in case you’re wondering, I’m already formulating my next book in my mind. It’s called, The Rival. I plan to start working on sometime after the fist of the year, but for now I’m going to go outside and play.
As many of you already know, photography, like writing, is one of my life’s passions.
I was living in San Francisco in the 1980s. I was free lance graphic designer and attending an art college where I planned on getting a master’s degree. San Francisco was a beautiful city back then, and at the time I had a Nikkormat (Nikon) 35mm camera. Needless to say, I did a lot of photography whenever my budget allowed it.
October 16, 1989 was a strange day for me. The sun was shining and the weather was warm; a nice reprieve from the foggy San Francisco summers. You’d think I would have been out enjoying the sunshine, but something was sucking the energy right out of me. I had to do some shopping, and that short trip to the store zapped what little strength I had.
Woke up the next morning feeling like myself again. It was October 17, 1989. Game three of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s was scheduled to take place that evening at Candlestick Park. I also had a class that afternoon, all the way across town in a building near Pier 39. It was midterms, and we had to do a special project. Once we were finished the instructor said we could leave early, which was a relief as many of my classmates were hoping to beat the game traffic.
I left about thirty minutes earlier than normal. Took the bus downtown, caught the streetcar which would take me to my apartment, about three blocks away from the Pacific Ocean. All seemed normal until we felt a strange shaking as we exited a tunnel. Funny how our minds work. I thought maybe a car had hit a power pole, which, in turn shook the electrical line powering the streetcar.
No such luck. We’d just been hit by a 7.1 earthquake. The streetcar had auxiliary power which got us a few blocks away from the tunnel before it quit running. From there I would have a long walk home.
Earthquakes are strange creatures. They travel in waves. As I walked I was amazed to find one block almost normal, except for the power being out. Another block I’d see broken glass and store merchandise dumped all over the floor. The next block again looked normal. No damage. No evidence of any shaking.
I was finally able to flag down a taxi and get a ride home. Thankfully, my apartment did well. No breakage, although a glass cabinet had slid about six inches across the floor. Oddly enough, all of the breakable collectibles inside were undamaged. My upstairs neighbor, however, had a lot more shaking. His living room furniture had all toppled, and the glassware in his kitchen exploded. He found pieces of broken glass for weeks afterwards.
The aftershocks, while expected, got to be unnerving at times, and the collapsed Cypress Structure freeway in the East Bay was unbelievable. The scale was massive. This elevated freeway was some thirty feet off the ground, and the collapsed section looked to me as if it went for about a quarter mile or so. Forty-two people died in that collapse and many others were seriously injured.
I left San Francisco the following year. Somehow a master’s degree wasn’t worth risking another big earthquake as this one wasn’t the big one, and I had no intentions of being there when it hit. Then again, earthquake or not, the cost of living was so high I would have left once I got my degree.
So fast forward to the present day. I’ve been scanning my old 35mm slides and restoring them as jpg files. I’ll be putting the best of the best on my SmugMug site, (under the name Gayle Martin.) Needless to say it’s brought back many memories of my time in San Francisco. Oddly enough I stopped taking photos after the earthquake. I think it’s because as a community we were all freaked out after October 17, 1989. Even now, on the thirtieth anniversary, I can still recall the images from that day as clearly as if it had happened yesterday.
Work on my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, has been interesting, to say the least. Ask any author, and they’ll tell you all books present their challenges as they’re being written. However, we authors always manage to work through them. That said, some books are simply more challenging than others. The Scandal has certainly presented its fair share of issues, and then some. I will admit, however, that it’s been such a fun book to write that I haven’t minded doing all the extra work. In fact, I’ve enjoyed spending the additional time with it. Truth be told, I don’t want this book to end.
Is it life imitating art, or is art imitating life?
The Scandal is set in Hollywood. Its lead character is a soap opera star. However, as luck would have it, the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and the MeToo movement, started while I was working on the treatment. Sometimes life imitates art, but really? Did it have to go this far? I take pride in writing original stories. Then there was the other issue. The MeToo movement has been controversial from the start, and I keep my books politically neutral. I also want to keep my books from becoming too dated.
Striving to keep my story separate from any real-life scandals, I decided I would make my lead antagonist more of a Roman Polanski character, but it came out too creepy. I revised it, and it still came out too creepy. So, the third time around, I changed him into a Hugh Hefner like playboy. It worked. He’s a womanizer and a cad; the kind of guy you’d like to slap across the face, but he’s no longer skin crawling creepy. I really liked this new version of him. So, now that he’d been, “fixed,” so to speak, I kept going. Finally, I finished the manuscript and sent it to Cynthia, my editor. She made her changes, and now it’s gone to the proofreader.
The second edit.
Proofreading is also called the second edit, and I have a new proofreader. She’s doing an amazing job. If something seems off as she’s reading, she lets me know. As it turns out, there were a few remnants from the earlier drafts which, while rewritten, came across as too confusing to her. As a result, two chapters had to have more extensive rewrites.
This is why a second edit is so vital. Not everyone will catch every error, and having an extra pair of eyes makes a big difference. As a result, these chapters are much improved, but having to take extra time has slowed down production just a bit. However, my publication date is set for early October, and we will be meeting that deadline.
The next Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel, The Scandal is back from the editor and we are in the process of proofreading. The Scandal will be available this fall. In the meantime, here is a sneak preview. Enjoy.
The Scandal Sample Chapter
Lauren McAllen wrapped her
hands around the steering wheel and held on tight. Raindrops splattered the
windshield while the wipers furiously knocked them away.
“You may think you’re
getting him back, Ashely,” she hissed through clenched teeth, “but trust me,
it’ll never happen because he’s all mine now.” A defiant smiled broke out
across her face, but it instantly turned into a look of sheer panic and terror
as she frantically yanked the steering wheel back and forth. Unable to regain
control of the car, she threw her arms across her face and braced herself for
“Cut!” shouted a man’s
voice. “And that’s a wrap.”
As Lauren relaxed, she turned
her head and smiled. “So, we got it?”
“Perfectly,” he replied, “but if you wouldn’t mind waiting here, the director would like to speak with you for a moment.”